PRE-CAP: Millard North


Brendan Priesman, CP Sports Network

It is getting colder, and that means it is playoff season for the #6 Creighton Prep Junior Jays (5-2).  The team is on a 4-game winning streak, and none of the last three games have been very close.  Prep now faces its first real test since Millard West, and not coincidentally, it’s another team that runs the option.  The Junior Jays’ opponent in this first round will be the #11 Millard North Mustangs (4-4).

The Mustangs had probably the toughest schedule in Class A this year, and the fact that they’re even at .500 now is a testament to the talent on this team.  Over the first 5 games of the season, they played 4 teams in the top 7, including #2 Westside (a 44-41 loss) and #3 Millard South (a 33-0 loss).  Luckily for the team, their schedule lightened up significantly, and since then the highest ranked opponent they’ve played has been Fremont (#12).  Last week they crushed #22 Norfolk, 52-6 and might be on just as much of a streak as Prep.  The Mustangs are a very solid team, led by a couple spectacular players.  

Everything about the Millard North offense runs through their quarterback, senior Jimmy Quaintance.  Quaintance does most of his damage on the ground, with 192 carries for 1064 yards (5.5 yards per carry) and 14 TD, but he can also hurt a team through the air, with 414 yards and 7 TD to 4 INT.  Quaintance’s main lieutenant in the backfield is senior running back Jason Cox, who has 120 carres for 586 yards and 4 TD, though many other backs have also run the ball often.  

The main leader of the defense is senior Blake Closman, who leads the team in tackles with 58, has 8 tackles for loss, 3 interceptions, and the kicking/punting duties.  Sophomore Charlie Quaintance is also a force on defense, with 34 tackles and 4 tackles for loss.  

Millard North’s run-heavy offense has been unstoppable in their victories this year. Against Lincoln East, they came back from a 28-7 deficit at the end of the first quarter to win, and against Grand Island they survived 2 overtimes.  Since then, they’ve been able to coast to victories.  In their victories, the Mustangs average 44 points, 404 rushing yards, and nearly 10 tackles for loss.  The team wins their battles in the trenches, but much like Prep, they haven’t been truly tested in a while, and their response to adversity could decide the game.

Meanwhile, Creighton Prep’s season didn’t look as though it would end up here for the longest time.  The season started with a 42-0 loss to Westside, and the next week, after a narrow win over Papillion La Vista, a player on the team tested positive for COVID-19.  That canceled the game against #1 Bellevue West, and led to a week off that may have contributed to the Lincoln Southeast loss.  However, Prep hasn’t lost a game since then, and the season definitively turned around during the comeback for the ages against Millard West.

Prep is led by their quarterback, senior Sam Meysenburg.  After beating out transfer Parker Leise for the starting job, Meysenburg has played well this season, going 73/113 for 786 yards and 9 TD to 5 INT.  Meysenburg’s main target has been (in my opinion) the Junior Jay MVP, Alex Bullock.  The senior wideout and defensive back caught 42 passes for 550 yards and 6 TD, to go along with 5 interceptions on the defensive side.  The number 2 receiver is Nebraska commit AJ Rollins, who has 17 catches for 177 yards and 5 TD.  An underclassman who stepped up this year has been Jack Stessman, who has become the lead running back for the Junior Jays, with 101 carries for 595 yards and 4 TD.  

Since that fourth quarter of the Millard West game, Prep has done no wrong.  The scoring margin for the team is 149-13 since then, which is an average of roughly 46-4 over the course of a game.  The defense for Prep has also been as staunch as any defense in the state, allowing no more than 26 points since the Westside game.  The upcoming clash against Millard North looks like a battle between an unstoppable force and an immovable object, and something’s got to give.  

Overall, these teams appear as though they are roughly on the same level.  Both appear to have one transcendent player (Quaintance and Bullock), a few supporting players who are great in their own right (Cox/Closman/Charlie Quaintance and Stessman/Rollins/Meysenburg) as well as many other solid players on both sides of the ball.  This game will come down to the wire, but I think that Prep-the immovable object-will hold strong and move their winning streak to 5.  Assuming that the Junior Jays do win, they will be playing either Millard West or Millard South, both of which will also make for close matchups.

My final prediction is Creighton Prep 28-24.


Playoff History

Record: 2-2

First Game: 2002, 14-10 Millard North

Most Recent Game: 2016, 35-21 Creighton Prep

Biggest Win (Prep): 2004/2016 (tie), 14 points

Biggest Loss (Prep): 2003, 31 points

Scoring Margin: 80-73, Millard North (20-18.25)